Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Chicken Fricassee with Lobster Mushrooms, Aromatic Vegetables and Formaggio Fontal Bulgar Wheat Polenta

     A Gourmet Café Style Fricassee!
     I have posted a few interesting fricassee recipes in the past, but today's fricassee recipe takes the cake!  
     There are only a few rules that define what a fricassee is.  Food historians state that Friquassee was described in early editions of the Le Viandier book of French cooking as early as the 14th or 15th century.  The book Le Viandier describes Friquassee as being meat that is not browned and simmered in a sauce.  Very old Friquassee recipes from the the age of the Le Viandier culinary reference book state that any meat can be used.  
     Later in food history, many culinarians described fricassee as being small pieces of light colored meat that is somewhere between a sauté recipe and a white stew.  Modern fricassee recipes nearly always features light colored wild game meats, fowl or seafood.  Rabbit, pheasant, chicken, frog legs or even alligator are good meat choices or making fricassee.  

     Some modern chefs make vegetable fricassee, but the definition of fricassee throughout history clearly states that meat is the featured ingredient.  Calling a lightly braised squash recipe a fricassee would be like calling a chicken stew a ratatouille.  There is no use reinventing the wheel when naming a recipe, because descriptive culinary words already exist that accurately define whatever the food is.     
     A fricassee stewing sauce can be thin and brothy or the sauce can have a medium thin velouté sauce consistency.  The sauce can be thickened with roux, beurre manie or just finished with plain butter.  Tomato or cream can be added to the sauce.  
     At a yacht where I used do sauté cooking, the chef occasionally ran a simple Chicken Fricassee that was stewed with only a lemon sauce.  Lemon flavored Chicken Fricassee over rice is a popular European and American entrée that is easy to recognize.  
     Any vegetables, herbs or mushrooms that are added to a fricassee must accent or compliment the flavors of the light meat, light broth sauce and lemon flavors.  Nothing should be added that would overpower the delicate flavor balance.  Fricassee is usually served with rice, but nearly any starch can be substituted.  A grain polenta is a nice choice.

     So, these are the basic rules of fricassee!  Today's modern café style fricassee recipe is made along the lines of the early Le Viandier culinary reference book Friquassee description.  The chicken was cooked poêle style (roasted in a sealed container with moisture).  The sauce is a reduced broth that is finished with beurre manie.  The broth is flavored with delicate aromatic vegetables and mushrooms.  
     The Lobster Mushrooms in this recipe are not really mushrooms at all.  Lobster Mushrooms are an attacking parasitic ascomycete that takes over two specific varieties of common Pacific Northwest wild mushrooms.  The flavor of Lobster Mushrooms depends on the host mushroom.  The flavor can can be peppery spicy or the flavor can taste like shellfish.  Either Lobster Mushroom flavor is nice for this fricassee recipe.

     Volaille Poêle:
     This recipe is written for 1 whole large Roaster Chicken, which is enough chicken for 4 or 5 fricassee entrées.  For a smaller portion, cook half of a chicken or a few chicken parts.
     The French Poêle Cuisson involves slow roasting in a moist environment in a sealed container.  The Poêle technique tenderizes tough birds and a minimum of browning occurs if the chicken is lightly sautéed first.  
     Step 1:  Trim 1 whole chicken.  Remove the wings, but leave the drummettes intact.  Trim off any excess fat, but do not damage the skin.  Trimming the leg ends is optional.
     Use butcher's string to tie and truss the chicken, so it looks nice after it is cooked.  
     Season the chicken with sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 2:  Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1/4 cup of vegetable oil.
     Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Sauté the whole chicken till it is a golden color on all sides.  (Try not to damage the skin.)  
     Step 3:  Set the chicken aside.
     Discard the grease from the pan.
     Deglaze the pan with 1 cup of dry white wine.
     Pour the deglazed jus into a cup and set it aside.
     Step 4:  Select a pot large enough to contain the whole chicken.
     Heat the pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 2 whole cloves of garlic.
     Sauté till the garlic turns a golden color.
     Step 5:  Add 1 minced shallot.
     Add these mirepoix vegetables:
     - 1/3 cup of large diced carrot.
     - 1/3 cup of large diced onion. 
     - 1/3 cup of large diced celery.  
     - 1/4 cup of diced leek.
     Briefly sauté till the vegetables become aromatic.
     Step 6:  Add the reserved white wine pan jus.
     Add 1 cup of chicken stock. 
     Add sea salt to taste.
     Step 7:  Add a tied sachet bouquet garni of:
     Add 1 pinch of rosemary.
     Add 1 pinch of tarragon.
     Add 2 pinches of thyme.
     Add 2 pinches of chervil.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Add 1 small bay leaf.
     Step 8:  When the liquid become hot, remove the pot from the heat. 
     Place the chicken on top of the vegetables and liquid in the pot.
     Seal the pot with a tight fitting lid.
     Place the pot in a 300ºF oven.
     Slowly roast till the chicken is fully cooked and tender. 
     Step 9:  Remove the pot from the oven and let it rest for about 5 minutes.
     Place the poêle chicken on a cutting board.
     Remove the trussing string.
     Cut the chicken into sections.  
     Debone the breast and thigh meat.  Cut the meat into thick slices.  
     Divide the poêle chicken into 8 ounce portions for the fricassee recipe.
     *The poêle chicken can be served as is with the mirepoix vegetables as a meal too.  The leftover unused chicken pieces can be used to make fricassee.  
     If the whole bird is planned to be used for fricassee, the vegetables from the pot can be saved for soup making.  
     Classic French cooking requires wasting nothing and often one item, like a poêle chicken, is turn into several recipes!    

     Formaggi Fontal Bulgar Wheat Polenta:
     This recipe yields 2 accompanying portions! 
     Step 1:  Place 1 cup of water in a sauce pot.
     Add 1 1/3 cups of light chicken broth.
     Bring the liquid to a boil over medium high heat.
     Step 2:  Add 1 cup of #3 size bulgar wheat.
     Return the liquid to a boil.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Simmer and reduce, till the bulgar wheat is very soft and till the liquid is slightly less than the amount of bulgar wheat in the pot.  (Add a splash of water if the liquid reduces too quickly, before the bulgar wheat is tender.)
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1/4 cup of small chopped imported Italian Fontal Cheese.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced Italian Parsley.
     Whisk the polenta, till it becomes a smooth and creamy thick texture.
     Step 5:  Place the polenta in a star tipped pastry bag and keep it warm on a stove top or in a 135ºF bain marie.
     Chicken Fricassee with Lobster Mushrooms and Aromatic Vegetables:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty entrée.
     Step 1:  Heat a wide sauteuse pan over medium low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 minced garlic clove.
     Add 2 teaspoons of minced shallot.
     Add 1 tablespoon of chopped leek.
     Sauté till the shallots turn clear in color.
     Step 2:  Add 1/3 cup of sliced florence fennel bulb and stalks.  (Anise Bulb is another name for florence fennel.)     
     Add 1 peeled parsley root that has its green top attached.
     Add 1/2 of a trimmed peeled yellow carrot. 
     Gently sauté, till the aromatic vegetables start to cook.  Be sure to toss the ingredients occasionally, so no browning occurs!
     Step 3:  Add 8 ounces of the prepared poêle chicken pieces.
     Add 1/2 of a thick sliced large fresh lobster mushroom.
     Add enough light chicken stock to barely cover the ingredients.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of thyme.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Step 4:  Raise the temperature to medium heat.  
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Step 5:  Knead 1 ounce of chilled unsalted butter together with an equal amount of flour to make a beurre manie.
     Add a little bit of the beure manie to the fricassee at a time, while stirring, till the sauce is a very thin consistency. 
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer the fricassee, till the vegetables are tender and the sauce reduces to a thin consistency that barely glazes a spoon.
     Add a few sprigs of the green florence fennel leaves.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Simmer the fricassee for one minute.

     Chicken Fricassee with Lobster Mushrooms, Aromatic Vegetables and Formaggio Fontal Bulgar Wheat Polenta:
     Use the pastry bag to pipe a portion of the bulgar wheat fontal polenta on a plate.
     Place the whole parsley root and yellow carrot half on the plate next to the polenta.
     Spoon the fricassee chicken pieces, lobster mushroom slices and florence fennel on the plate, so they look nice.
     Spoon a generous amount of the thin fricassee sauce over the chicken and onto the plate.
     No garnish is necessary!

     Needless to say, this is a nice tasting modern fricassee!  

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